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What the Heck Is Chard?

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What the Heck Is Chard?

Chard is a leafy, and often colorful vegetable, in the beet family. However, while beets are primarily cultivated for their root (though many also enjoy beet greens), the stems and leaves are the favored parts of chard. Chard is known by a number of other popular names, including Swiss chard, silverbeet, bright lights, seakale beet, white beet, strawberry spinach, leaf beet, Sicilian beet, Chilian beet, Roman kale, spinach beet, crab beet, perpetual spinach, or mangold.

Chard has been known since ancient times, and has long been popular in Mediterranean cuisine. The name chard comes from the French word carde, which refers to the cardoon, or artichoke thistle. The plant came to be known as Swiss chard as a way to differentiate it from native spinach.

It grows in a variety of colors, from white to purple, and everything in between. Often, different color varieties are grown together and packaged as “rainbow chard.” The reds, yellow, oranges and purples all mixed together make an appealing presentation.

Chard can beaten raw or cooked. It is most often used in salads when it is still young and tender, and sautéed or added to recipes after maturity, when the leaves and stems are larger and tougher. Mature chard can also be bitter, but cooking mellows the flavor.

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Like most green, leafy vegetables, chard is highly nutritious. It is rich in iron, magnesium, fiber, protein, and vitamins A,C, and K.

Here are a few recipes to help you get acquainted with this colorful vegetable.

Chard Parmesan
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 small red onion, diced
8 large Swiss chard leaves, with stems
1/2 cup white wine
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan

Cut out the chard stems, dice, and set aside. Coarsely chop the leaves. In a large skillet, melt the butter and olive oil over medium-high heat. Stir in the garlic and onion, and cook for 30 seconds. Add the chard stems and the white wine. Simmer until the stems begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Stir in the chopped chard leaves, and cook until softened. Add lemon juice and Parmesan cheese.

Chard and Goat Cheese Frittata
8 large Swiss chard leaves, with stems
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
8 large eggs
Fresh ground black pepper
4 ounces soft goat cheese, crumbled

Cut out the chard stems, dice, and set aside. Coarsely chop the leaves. In a large cast iron skillet*, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add onion, 1/4 teaspoon of salt, and rosemary. Sauté for 10 minutes over medium heat, until the onions are soft and beginning to brown. Stir in the chard leaves and 1/4 teaspoon salt, and sauté for 1 to 2 minutes, until the greens begin to soften. Remove from heat. Stir in garlic and chard stems, and set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, add the chard mixture and goat cheese, and stir to combine. Preheat the broiler in the oven. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in the skillet over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, pour in the chard-egg mixture and cook for about 3 minutes. Place the skillet in the oven and for 3 minutes. Pry the frittata from the edges of the skillet and invert it onto a serving platter. Cut into wedges and serve.

*If you don’t have cast iron, use a skillet with an oven-safe handle

Chard Salad
3 lb. chard stems
1 qt. water
1 tsp. salt
1 clove garlic
1 tsp. salt
1/3 c. oil
1/2 c. lemon juice
1 tsp. dried crushed mint

Cut chard stems into 1-inch pieces and boil them in water with salt for 15 minutes. Squeeze out excess water. Mash the garlic and salt together. Add oil, lemon and mint. Mix well, pour over chard stems, and toss well.

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1 Jaime McLeod { 11.08.12 at 12:25 pm }

Fannie, I’m not sure how to disguise the flavor. Why not just stick with the greens you like? My favorites are arugula, mustard greens, and kale. I’ll eat the others, but they aren’t my favorite. Not everything can be.

2 Fannie { 11.07.12 at 1:15 pm }

I really do not care a great deal for chard, beet greens, or spinach, though I know they are a good green and ought to be utilized. I eat beet greens when I buy fresh beets, and spinach as one of many greens in a salad, or when it is served and I don’t want to seem picky. I’d really like to know some combinations that would ameliorate or perhaps disguise the earthy flavor of these greens, which I do not enjoy. I really like other greens: Collards, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, mustard, turnip greens; and kale, though less well. I try to eat a very low-fat, vegan diet, so things with eggs, cheese, meat and a lot of oil would not be the best. I’m going to next try combining them with tomatoes to see how that works out.

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